Poetry Book Review: “Shining From A Different Firmament” by Beatriz F. Fernandez

Shining from a Different Firmament is an exceptional 14-poem chapbook by Beatriz F. Fernandez. Using both open and closed forms of poetry, the author takes us through the centuries from ancient Egypt to modern-day Florida along a timeline traced through the stories of women both real and fictional. She has not only done what is so uncommon today — written poems about historical figures — but has done so in a style reminiscent of traditional, classical form.

The one poem where the main subject is a man is the one entitled ‘Richard the Lionheart’s Mummified Heart Examined’, wherein everyone speaks up, from Richard I, to the King’s Minstrel, even the mummified heart.

Along with Richard I’s heart, the other characters in Fernandez’ poems are voices we haven’t heard much from in the pages of history. In ‘The Picture of Constance Wilde’, Oscar Wilde’s innocent and long-suffering wife Constance laments the ruination of her life, along with her husband’s, due to his public scandal. Here is how Constance opens the poem:

“When I saw pity shine
copper bright in your friends’ eyes–
that’s when I knew what my life would become:
forever a shadow wife to your darker self.
No longer the celebrated bride of a brilliant man,
but a whispered aside in a shaded parlor,
while on every corner street urchins
heralded your shame.”

In the poem ‘Letter from Lara, Yuriatin, 1920’ we discover the voice of Lara from Dr. Zhivago, whose point of view was not adequately addressed in the story. From out of the misty halls of time and myth we can also hear echoes of Nefertiti, an Amazon warrior, Marie Curie and others who have been disregarded, mistreated or simply forgotten in this well-researched, intelligently written chapbook.

We hope that this book, and its author’s voice, will continue to be heard for a very long time.

Beatriz F. Fernandez’ Shining from a Different Firmament (Finishing Line Press, 2015) is a recommended read. https://finishinglinepress.com

Beatriz F. Fernandez is a reference librarian at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. She was the grand prize winner of the second annual Reader’s Digest Poetry Award, and her poetry has been published by a variety of journals. https://www.beasbooks.blogspot.com

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